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Promising Lab Research Focuses on Neurological Mechanisms Occurring in the Brain
Iona Biology Students Are Participating in Further Research
What happens in the brain during formation of lesions in multiple sclerosis (MS)? The results of a laboratory research project recently published in Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology show that it is a cycle of effects which leads to damaging molecules gaining entrance to the brain and causing greater damage.
These findings are the result of a study undertaken by Teresa G. D'Aversa, PhD, Associate Professor in Biology, Eliseo A. Eugenin, PhD, Associate Professor at the Public Health Research Institute of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and Joan W. Berman, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Microbiology and Immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
In lab experiments it was found that a component of the myelin sheath which encloses neurons (MBP) induced expression of two chemotactic and inflammatory mediators, CCL2 and IL-6, from endothelial cells. It was also shown that when a human blood-brain-barrier model was treated with MBP, there was an increase in leakiness of the barrier indicating a greater ease of substances being able to cross into the brain and cause damage. This increase in leakiness was correlated to decreases in proteins that maintain the integrity of the barrier as well as to an increase in another protein that breaks down the barrier. The data presented suggest a mechanism whereby MBP, which is present in the MS brain and lesions, can alter cell function by inducing inflammatory mediators and disrupting the integrity of the blood-brain-barrier. The significance of these findings can be seen in the damage that occurs during MS. If the blood-brain-barrier is compromised, then inflammatory cells can infiltrate the brain. Once in, these cells can enhance the damage and inflammation that is taking place, as well as promote further break down of the barrier and allow even more cells into the brain, exacerbating the pathogenesis of MS.
In addition, Dr. D'Aversa and some of her students at Iona are looking at the involvement of astrocytes and the effects of MBP on these cells, as well as investigating the neurotoxicity of MBP.
Dr. D'Aversa has been a biology professor at Iona since 2007. She holds a master's degree and doctoral degree in Neuropathology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and attended Siena College where she earned a BS degree in Biology and a BA degree in Psychology.